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In Memoriam 2015

January 1: Donna Douglas: Played daughter Elly May Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies. (Age 82). 1: Mario Cuomo: Governor of New York (1983 to 1994) (Age 82). 2: James Cecil Dickens: Known as Little Jimmy Dickens, best known for his song May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up ...

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The disappearance of misc.activism.progressive and the emergence of Thought Crime Radio

Almost four years ago, the articles in the USENET newsgroup misc.activism.progressive ground to a halt, and moderator Rich Winkel has all but disappeared from the USENET, whom I learn resided in Harrisburg (up until 2010, at least), a half hour or so drive from his ...

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Sounding off on the end of CanCon and the CRTC

I guess with the recent decision to axe all cancon requirements for daytime programming in Canada, the CRTC is crawling toward its own irrelevance. Let's not be naive, Canadian culture is that much more weakened without the protection it partially enjoyed from American influence. With ...

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Eldred, Saskatchewan on the map … barely

Eldred, Saskatchewan on the map ... barely

I've written about obscure Saskatchewan communities before. Here is another community far to the north of Unity. My ancestors from France settled here. Many of my ancestors were pioneers that broke new farming ground nearest to a community called Eldred, Saskatchewan. Eldred was about 10 km ...

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Once upon a time, around the year 525 during the reign of Pope John I, a monk named Dionysius invented the idea of Anno Domini by producing a calendar which marked the time since the birth of Christ. The numbering of the years was adopted ...

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Fortune Cookies for Human Rights

Fortune Cookies for Human Rights

You know, I was minding my own business in this classy Chinese restaurant, engorging myself on their copious buffet, had my fill, and was handed the bill with an accompanying fortune cookie. This fortune cookie (the one to the left) really existed, and I never saw ...

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Getting f(x) notation to work in Maple

Getting f(x) notation to work in Maple

Maple is a robust math environment which can graph, solve equations, and solve for the unknown with the aid of its computer algebra solver (CAS), which is capable of computing exact roots of cubic functions, for example. I wanted to demonstrate for myself that Maple could ...

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Kudos to the 1050 CHUM Memorial Blog

Kudos to the 1050 CHUM Memorial Blog

Recently, I've been hit (my website that is) by someone possibly checking his plethora of links from his/her website, and when I back-traced it, I find this cool blog which acts as a convincing historical shrine to the late great 1050 CHUM Radio in Toronto. ...

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The Obfuscation of Electronics: The Behringer Xenyx 502

The Obfuscation of Electronics: The Behringer Xenyx 502

This is more like a meta-review. I have gone to Canada Computes where nearly the entire Behringer line is sold, and was impressed by the specs. But does it do what I want, the way I want it? I face a number of obstacles, being a ...

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The Government is telling me who I am: The voting Survey: a lesson in sampling bias part III

As a response for participating in the survey, I finally know who I am, because the government told me so. Apparently I am a pragmatist. In an earlier one of these online surveys, I was someone on the loony left. These labels are, on some level, amusing. It’s kind of like reading a Horoscope characterization of yourself, with about the same level of scientific accuracy. Most things on this list as so broadly-defined that they can apply to just about anyone. I will just show this characterization below without comment:


  1. Pragmatists
    • My democracy is balancedand straight-forward
    • Pragmatists generally want governments to strike a balance between decisive action and compromise. They tend to prefer a clear line of accountability to voters, but not at the expense of collaboration between parties.
    • Pragmatists are split about whether special measures are needed to help increase the diversity of representation in Parliament.
    • Pragmatists typically prefer that election ballots are easy to use and to understand.
    • Pragmatists generally view voting as a democratic duty rather than a personal choice and are slightly more inclined to support mandatory voting. They are among the least likely archetypes to support online voting.

Who are Pragmatists?

    • 52
  2. MALE
    • 48%
    • 52%
  4. OTHER
    • *
  5. RURAL
    • 25%
    • 29%
  7. URBAN
    • 46%

The voting Survey: a lesson in sampling bias part II

So far, in the last post, I had revealed an example of sampling bias as being the fact that the questions only hint at particular alternative voting systems without coming out and suggesting one and how it has been implemented elsewhere, so that a more intelligent response to the questionnaire could be made possible. A casual questionnaire participant would look at these questions on offer and probably say “sounds like a great idea” without understanding the details of the proposed voting system that would make him or her think otherwise.

It is also my understanding that certain groups of people (i.e, government and industry) are often breathless in their praise of computers. Now mind you, computers are a great technology (my blog runs on one), but the most trustworthy technology have been voting with physical paper ballots. It is hard evidence that a vote took place. Pushing a button or pulling a lever or interacting with a computer sends electrons through conductors that have no memory and leave no trace of themselves behind. The “memory” on a computer would then only be as effective as the program running that is counting my vote. On the other hand, a pen mark on a paper ballot will last a hundred years.

This is to say nothing about our experiences with federal elections south of the border. Since the voting machines came in, there have been accusations, not without merit, of corruption in the American voting system, due to the way the machines counted the votes, leading to people ask how they were programmed. But when called upon to surrender their source code, companies like Diebold refused, citing patent infringement. If this were government-owned source code, they could make a clear case for public accountability, and demand that the feds surrender the code and make it public. But Diebold is a private company, so they can’t make that demand. This in effect gives companies like Diebold unaccountable power over election turnout in the United States.

On the “Cooperation” scenario is that allowing opposition parties to participate in developing policy places the Prime Minister as the lone president of “Canada, Inc.”, thus Americanizing the Candian system (I know you all want that), since this also allows the PM to be elected on a separate ballot (not a bad idea in some ways). Of course this proposal of separate ballots for the PM is nowhere on this questionnaire. Everything is just hinted at, hoping the participant doesn’t think any bit deeper.

We would have to say farewell to the bloodletting of Question Period, and if we ever hated big governnment before, it would be worse this way, with no effective opposition, and no avenue for citizen input in the lower chamber. The government would have 338 elected employees (formerly called MPs) working for it, rather than some of them in opposition. That would only leave the upper chamber, the senate, to speak for anyone with an opposing view.

There were then these binary questions asked, in the form of “which do I want more?”:

  1. A government where one party governs and can make decisions on its ownOR a government where several parties have to collectively agree before a decision is made?
    • I like how the question makes you want to answer in favour of cooperation. Cooperation leaves no voice of opposition, and no accountability. But if I favour the first option, am I supporting dictatorships? Also, was there ever a problem with “cooperation” and policy making in the past that would lead us to demand a total overhaul?
    • I don’t define governing with an opposition party on the other side of the house “governing on your own”.
  2. One party governs and is solely accountable for policy outcomesOR several parties must cooperate to govern and they share accountability for policy outcomes?
    • This question is really the same as the first, and makes no suggestion as to how accountability would be held in the second scenario. “Shared accountability” leaves open the question “to whom?”. There has to be an elected body that holds MPs accountable. Up until the last election, that role was filled by the MPs in opposition.
    • This brings up the murky topic about the senate being elected …? I like the senate and understand what they do. They are not just a rubber stamp on Parliament, they speak for minorities, and for the long term. That is why they don’t run for election. They are there to think of policy’s effect over decades and vote based on “sober second thought”. The lower chamber and elections have the problem of only thinking as far as the next election for the effect of policy. Senators do not have to do the bidding of the lower house or of their party or of the Prime Minister. Policy is something we must live with for decades into the future, and we need that additional deep thought by detached individuals to help the lower chamber change its policy so that things work into the future. It has served us well in the past, and again, the only complaints come from self-interested groups who want to see a more American system. Remeber, our senators right now have no committement to party loyalty whatsoever, and is thus detached from the lower house. The American system is still bound to party loyalty.
  3. Ballots should be as simple as possible so that everybody understands how to voteOR ballots should allow everybody to express their preferences in detail?
    • Simple is always better.
  4. Members of Parliament that do what their party promised, even if it means going against what their constituents wantOR members of Parliament that do what their constituents want, even if it means going against what their party promised?
    • Voters usually vote for their party and their platform. The local platform is far less publicized, even locally. So, I think party promises should come first, since that is likely what got their party into power. And to the extent that the party strays from the original platform, MPs should become the voice of their constituents.
  5. No further action needs to be taken to ensure that those elected to Parliament better reflect the diversity of the population they representOR further action needs to be taken to ensure that those elected to Parliament better reflect the diversity of the population they represent?
    • Diversity is determined by voters. What on Earth could the government do to change that? Telling some people they can’t run and saying that others can? The voters have to decide that. And if a under-represented member of a minority wants to run, then let him or her, and wish them the best of luck. Was there ever anything preventing this from happening?
  6. Canadians should have the option to cast their ballots online in federal elections, even if the security or privacy of online voting cannot be guaranteedOR Canadians should continue to vote using paper ballots at a polling station, even if it is less accessible for some voters?
    • Again, we have always accomodated disabled people at the voting station. I say that as the husband of a wife who has been in a wheelchair for over a decade. It is another non-problem. The huge problem is from the first choice: the lack of security in online voting. This is always the problem in improving convenience for people in computer software: security is always sacrificed. To make the voting system trustworthy, I believe it is worth a little discomfort for a few minutes at the voting station in filling out a paper ballot. Again, I have heard of no one complaining about not using computers. I have heard a whole lot more about us speaking of American elections as a laughingstock with their computer voting.
  7. Voting in federal elections is an obligationOR voting in federal elections is a choice?
    • Voting is our right. That includes a right not to vote. Sorry to say that, but that is the reality. If the candidates are all sub-optimal, then I should not be forced to cast a choice. The politicians must simply learn to be more in touch with the people who elect them. This is a simple human expectation.
  8. Having many small parties in Parliament representing many different viewsOR having a few big parties that try to appeal to a broad range of people?
    • I don’t think that can be answered with this questionnaire, nor is it the purview of our government to do anything about that. It should be up to the voters. It would help if the government lowered the official minimum seats for official party status from 6 down to 1.
    • And if the party was treated less as an extension of the PMO as it has been in recent decades, and more of a looser-knit set of politicians speaking for those who elected them, this idea of “representing many different views” would never have been a problem. Nobody asked for all party MPs to vote as a block on every possible legislation. Simply stop doing that, and we will be fine.
  9. Members of Parliament that spend more time in their constituency working with constituentsOR Members of Parliament that spend more time on Parliament Hill working on the issues that matter to their constituents?
    • I don’t see what problem this solves. If you are in your constituency office, you are spending less time voting on legislation in Ottawa, and less time in Question Period. If you are speding more time in Ottawa, you are spending less “face time” with your constituents. Wouldn’t we have already worked this problem out a long time ago? Why is this question being asked?
  10. Members of Parliament that always support policies that they think are best for their constituents, even if their constituents disagreeOR Members of Parliament that always support policies their constituents want, even if the MPs themselves personally disagree?
    • Also, wouldn’t an MP already know why they were elected and not let their personal opinions contaminate their support of policies? I would treat the voters as always being right, and would never be so paternalistic as to feel that I know better what my constituents need.

In Memoriam, 2016

Tweet What a year. A lot of really well-liked musicians and entertainers have shuffled off this mortal coil. Indeed, it was a depressing year for celebrity deaths, and increased global warming and Trump winning the election didn’t help things. We witness the cosmically interconnected deaths of multiple people within the same sitcom; both Carrie Fisher (Princess […] […]

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The voting survey: a lesson in sampling bias

Tweet Our feds came up with a survey that had some useful questions in it, but also had some questions that gave the overall impression of how they wanted the questions answered. They are asking me to agree or disagree with statements that have not been discussed a whole lot in the media, and really require […] […]

Go to article The voting survey: a lesson in sampling bias


Hillary Pilloried

Tweet We should see more headlines like this. This past day’s election should have been Hillary’s to lose, not Trump’s to win. But this is what it has become. In the media, it was always about Donald. Donald says something outrageous, then the media and the world react, like a Greek chorus. Hillary, singing alto, would be […] […]

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As I have said elsewhere …

Tweet I have been saying for the past six months that the coverage of Donald Trump has the effect of support for the Republican presidential candidate. Other events also contributed, most notably the coronation of Trump which constituted the whole Republican convention from start to finish. The mediocre crop of candidates surrounding Trump did not want […] […]

Go to article As I have said elsewhere …


OOC 013: Folkies and Rockers

Tweet Bruce Cockburn tried to stay back-to-the-land (and later political) in his music and public image for as long as he could. Born and raised in Ottawa, he has been penning songs for over 30 years along many themes, including religion, third world politics, love, friendship, and much more. Apart from getting his Order of Canada in […] […]

Go to article OOC 013: Folkies and Rockers


Famous Teetotalers 013: She’s a little bit country, and he’s a little bit rock and roll

Tweet Donny and Marie Osmond have been singing as a brother and sister act since the early 1970s. Both don’t imbibe, and possibly never did, accounting as to why both look so young. They still have their brother/sister act, which they perform mostly in Vegas these days. Marie has liberal views about marriage and out of […] […]

Go to article Famous Teetotalers 013: She’s a little bit country, and he’s a little bit rock and roll


So you want to be a witchcraft-practising wrestler?

Tweet You are a follower of witchcraft, and you want to become a wrestler for WWF or something (what decent witch wouldn’t want that?), then you need to have a moniker. An alias that captures all that you are. Here, from the website “Behind the Name“, are some name suggestions to help out witches and warlocks […] […]

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If you are out of topic ideas …

Tweet 4d3hndufl6 […]

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In Memoriam: Gene Wilder, at 83

Tweet Today, it was reported that actor and meme victim Gene Wilder died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at age 83. I’ve looked up some things about the meme from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. Turns out that the image is from a scene where he reveals a little bit of his chocolate manufactouring process to […] […]

Go to article In Memoriam: Gene Wilder, at 83


The popularity of “Child Poverty”

Tweet Over the past decade or so, this human rights cause “flavour of the month” called “child poverty” has been in style as something to say and for human rights groups and politicians to champion. Before that, we only had “poverty”, until sometime in the late ’90s, when someone discovered “child poverty”, and now it’s all […] […]

Go to article The popularity of “Child Poverty”


Famous Teetotalers 012: Right-wingers

Tweet Ted Nugent or “The Nuge” is a hard rock/psychedelic guitarist whose musical career dates back to 1963. He has made his stance against drug and alcohol abuse part of his right-wing activism. He is an ardent Republican supporter, and is strongly in favour of gun rights. It is said that his stance against substance abuse […] […]

Go to article Famous Teetotalers 012: Right-wingers


OOC Recipients 012: Movie Makers

Tweet David Cronenberg, a filmmaker otherwise known as the King of Horror, or the Baron of Blood, was essentially a Canadian filmmaker, and didn’t delve into Hollywood much. Most of his films were shot in Ontario, with notable exceptions. Films like Madame Butterfly and Eastern Promises were shot in China and England respectively. Rabid and Shivers […] […]

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From coronation to Elbowgate: the extremes of Trudeau coverage

Tweet By world standards, the Parliamentary melee that happened this past week is pretty tame, but what has now become known as Elbowgate brings down our insanely high expectations of Justin Trudeau, fuelled by the media. The melee was nothing, Trudeau apologized, and sensible people are moving on. But in essensce it is a shock that it […] […]

Go to article From coronation to Elbowgate: the extremes of Trudeau coverage


Famous teetotalers 011: Muhammad Ali

Tweet Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, was a lot of things to people living in the 1960s and 1970s. Apart from being thrice awarded the world championship in boxing as a heavyweight (1964, 1974, and 1978), he would be a draft dodger and peace activist, a devotee of Islam, and pop culture icon. Like most elite […] […]

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OOC Recipients 011: Sigers and Chanteuses

Tweet In the early 1980s, Manitoba-born Loreena McKennitt was busking in Toronto in order to finance her first album, Elemental. It led to a career in performing Celtic music that would sell 14 million records worldwide over the course of her career. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2004. That was a few years […] […]

Go to article OOC Recipients 011: Sigers and Chanteuses


Famous Teetotalers 010 – Howard Hughes

Tweet Howard Hughes (1905-1976) — Was a multi-talented business tycoon, one of the world’s richest men in his day. He was an aviator, an aircraft engineer, inventor, and filmmaker. It would take a long time to go through his accomplishments, but the founding of Trans-World Airlines (TWA) has to count for something. He made some successful […] […]

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OOC Recipients 010: You would want your kids to look up to them

Tweet Marc Garneau — Kids all want to be astronauts. Or firefighters. Or race car drivers. Most kids stand a better chance at being one of the latter two. Engineer Marc Garneau got the first one: he went on three NASA Space Shuttle flights. And in going full circle with this, he is now, after a […] […]

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Famous teetotalers 09: Musicians too

Tweet Rumor has it that Prince, otherwise known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, is teetotal, although maybe it is hard to believe. All Google searches for Prince in association with drugs led to Saudi sheikhs, cocaine and beheadings (not kidding), so I can only believe what the rumors say. Actually, it is a little […] […]

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